Milos Raonic has warned Andy Murray he will not be “sucked into his game” when the pair do battle in the Wimbledon final tomorrow.
Raonic led Murray by a set and 3-0 in the Aegon Championships final at Queen’s Club three weeks ago only for the British No 1 to come storming back and clinch the title.
Now they will go head to head again on Centre Court this weekend, with Raonic pursuing his first grand slam title while Murray chases his second at Wimbledon and third overall.
The Canadian, who has been working with John McEnroe this summer, showed his mettle against Roger Federer yesterday as he came from behind to beat the Swiss master in five.
The world No 7 insists he has learned from his latest encounter with Murray and will be more resilient this time around.
“The biggest challenge for me, which I felt was the thing I want to happen the least, or repeat itself the least from Queen’s, is I got sucked into his game,” Raonic said.
“I didn’t play on my terms. That’s going to be the most important thing for me.
“I’m up there 7-6 and I have a point for 4-1, but I end up getting broken by a close miss.
“I wasn’t disappointed with that point. That can happen. I was disappointed with how I dealt with things after that. I sort of went into my shell, didn’t put myself out there enough.
“I think that’s the thing I want to avoid the most. We’ve discussed it quite a bit. I don’t know if I’d watch that match at Queen’s again, but definitely I recall some things. I can remember that match pretty well.”
McEnroe joined Raonic’s coaching team for the start of Queen’s and the American appears to be having a positive effect, given Murray is his player’s only conqueror on grass so far.
There will also be added attention on McEnroe renewing his rivalry with Ivan Lendl, Murray’s coach whom he faced 10 times in major tournaments.
Asked about the credit McEnroe might receive if Raonic triumphs tomorrow, the Canadian said: “At the end of the day, I get to win Wimbledon. Who cares?”
Raonic was also unconcerned about the prospect of McEnroe sitting in the BBC commentary box rather than courtside again, as he did for the 25-year-old’s victory over Federer.
“I remember when I played Jack Sock in the third round, John messaged me and said, ‘Hey, they want me to call your match. Do you mind? If you need, I’ll sort of request to call another match’,” Raonic said.
“I said, ‘I don’t mind at all. Hopefully I will have to face the situation where you can’t call any other match’.
“It’s the terms we came to. From the beginning we had a clear understanding.”
While Murray cruised past Berdych 6-3 6-3 6-3, Raonic was made to work much harder for his thrilling duel with Federer, as he battled back to win 6-3 6-7 (3/7) 4-6 7-5 6-3.
“Am I worried about recovering? No, playing five sets, my matches tend to be quite quick,” Raonic said.
“I feel pretty good after. I know I’ll feel much better in 48 hours. I think you disregard that very quickly.
“It’s a slam final. A lot of adrenaline, all this kind of stuff takes over and you keep fighting through.”
Federer looked on course for victory when leading two sets to one and he squandered three break points in the fourth set before serving two double faults to help the Canadian force a decider.
With Novak Djokovic out, this was perhaps Federer’s greatest chance of winning an 18th major title and the veteran was visibly deflated afterwards.
“This one clearly hurts because I felt I could have had it. So close. It was really so, so close,” Federer said.
“I can’t believe I served a double fault twice. Unexplainable for me really. I’m very sad about that and angry at myself because never should I allow him to get out of that set that easily.”
Fatigue may have caught up with the 34-year-old, who twice called the trainer to look at his thigh and had not played consecutive five-setters since 2013.
Asked whether his leg injury felt serious, Federer said: “I don’t know yet, I don’t even want to know, I just felt not the same afterwards.
“With the body that’s been playing up this year, I just hope I’m going to be fine. I believe I am but I’ll know more (this morning) when I wake up.”
During the contest, Canadian Raonic rifled down rocket serves at 143 miles per hour, only five mph short of Taylor Dent’s Wimbledon record set in 2010.
McEnroe said of Raonic’s semi-final win: “Amazing. This wasn’t just his serve.
“We know the guy has a huge serve, but he showed a lot of heart, a lot of fight, he found another gear which I don’t even know he knew he had.”
Murray’s lucky charm Sir Alex Ferguson was watching on in the players’ box as was Bjorn Borg, the sort of “tennis legend” Federer admitted this week can still make him nervous.